Mountain Khakis Peaks Flannel Shirt Review and wear test

The Mountain Khakis Peaks Flannel Shirt is pretty pricey for a shirt - but after finding it online for cheap(er) I thought I'd give it a go and see how it stands up. My quick review and wear test summary: awesome.

Mountain Khakis Peaks Flannel Shirt

The Mountain Khakis Peaks Flannel Shirt is a western styled "flannel" shirt from Mountain Khaki. The unusual thing about this shirt is the blend used in the fabric - a Poly/Wool/Lycra blend. I've worn and washed the shirt a few times now and can only describe the fabric as burly (feels sturdier and warmer than other flannels) but wearable. I'm pretty sure John Wayne's flannel western shirts didn't have any Lycra in them - but it definitely adds a nice wearability to what would otherwise be a heavier feeling shirt. After washing and drying - the shirt didn't shrink at all and there was no color fade.

I have found there to be a slight 'wool' feel to the shirt - I normally don't like the feel of wool directly against my skin - but in this case it isn't itchy - just warmer.





Best free channels for your new roku and live tv streaming

After getting my new roku I've started to dig into the best free channels and the best channels to add in general. What I really wanted to do was to stream live tv to my roku - and while I figured out how to do this - it might not be worth it. See more on this below.

1. Netflix. Roku may talk about free movies and channels but the truth is that without Netflix you might as well not buy a roku. Other sources are limited and commercial laden - Netflix should be your first stop.

2. Crackle. Ok - these are free movies - but seriously? "Zombie strippers"? There is a reason these movies are free. It is an ok addition to Netflix but only for spare entertainment.

3. Amazon stream. Even though you have to pay extra I've found that occasionally I can find a must watch movie on amazon even when it isn't on Netflix.

4. Ustream. This is interesting and has a lot of potential. In theory this service is intended for expats outside USA- but there is no verification so anyone can use it. I was indeed able to watch live tv for free - fox, NBC, Abc. The problem was resolution. Then true quality was terrible - I viewed it as radio with a side helping of grainy images. If you are looking for a hi quality live tv experience on the roku good luck - I wasn't able to find it.

Lastly - I didn't but one of the fancy hdmi cables - and have found that the basic rgb cables work just fine.


Why is Facebook stock on the rise?

As someone who has played in tech stocks for a while (all the way back to the APCC days) I've been watching facebook stock (FB) for some time with interest.

After all the hoopla that surrounded the IPO it was fascinating to watch reality take hold. Will fb be able to monetize mobile traffic? Will they be able to retain the RIP employees? As the questions mounted, the stock started to tank.

In the meantime I've been watching as our client base has continued to invest in facebook advertising. Google has a well established reputation (and measured ROI) in our client's portfolio of promotion - and we have for some time been recommending facebook as well.

Because of our agency relationship with Facebook we are able to see the ebb and flow of advertising dollars  from a unique vantage point and for me I'm seeing several reason to be optimistic about the future of fb advertising.

1. paying to promote posts is showing a healthy return on investment
2. paying to promote company pages is a great way to build fans - which in turn has value as a communication platform.
3. the concept of a facebook powered ad network (currently in the works) is a powerful one.
4. it appears as though facebook has begun to sort out the monetization of mobile traffic.

All these support an optimistic forecast for facebook revenue and stock appreciation. As I type this it has already surged by almost 4% today alone.

Classic ASP Plotting new visitor location on a google static map

I've been intrigued by the possibility of plotting my web registrants physical location on a map for a while so I thought I'd give it a try and see what was required to make this happen. There are two tools that I ended up using:

1. Google static maps API. Really easy to use - basically just construct the URL to the google map image and you are off and running.

2. Get the visitor location (lat longitude) from their IP address. This was a bit trickier.

Getting started:

1. Visit https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/staticmaps/ and read up on the creation of a google static map. In my case I stuck with the most basic implementation to keep things easy.

2. After searching for a while I found the best way to get from IP address to location was to use this web service: http://ipinfodb.com/ This service allows you to call an HTTP address and get back physical location information. The basic idea it to call the infodb URL like so:

URL = "http://api.ipinfodb.com/v3/ip-city/?key=" & locationKEY & "&ip=" & UserIPAddress

The result if you simply browse to this address is a semi-colon delimited string containing details like city/state and Lat;Long.

What I did was to create a classic asp function that returned the Lat,Long position like so:

Function getPosition(UserIPAddress)

URL = "http://api.ipinfodb.com/v3/ip-city/?key=" & locationKEY & "&ip=" & UserIPAddress

Set xmlHttp = Server.Createobject("MSXML2.ServerXMLHTTP")
    xmlHttp.Open "GET", URL, False
    xmlHttp.setRequestHeader "User-Agent", "asp httprequest"
    xmlHttp.setRequestHeader "content-type", "application/x-www-form-urlencoded"
    getHTML = xmlHttp.responseText
    set xmlHttp = Nothing   

 arrLocation = SPLIT(getHTML,";")

 strLatitude = arrLocation(8)
 strLongitude = arrLocation(9)

 strCoordinatesTemp = strLatitude & "," & strLongitude

 getPosition = strCoordinatesTemp


Once this function was created, all I had to do was iterate through my latest visitors IP address to generate the actual map

'--get most recent 5 locations
sqlGet = "select top(5) pr_ip_address,pr_index from tProfile order by pr_index desc"
set objRsLocations = objConn.Execute(sqlGet)

DO WHILE NOT objRsLocations.EOF

strCoordinates = strCoordinates & "%7C" & getPosition(objRsLocations("pr_ip_address"))


Once that was done - just append the coordinates to the google static maps api url and you are good to go:

<img src=http://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/staticmap?size=300x300&markers=color:blue%7Clabel:%7C<%=strCoordinates%>&sensor=true>

The result?


Generating a fancybox iframe modal from a google visualization datatable

I've been trying for a little while to create an iFrame modal to deliver content and interactivity from within a google visualization data table. The solution was to use fancybox and then escape the characters.

The tools:

1. use Google data tables to add sort/etc. functionality to a table.

2. install and fancybox and jquery accessories

3. enable HTML for the column you wish to call the modal from and then escape the chars.

IMPORTANT: note the allow HTML and the \" (this is how you must escape the double quotes in order to not break the data structure).

<script type='text/javascript'>
      google.load('visualization', '1', {packages:['table']});
      function drawTable() {
 var options = {'showRowNumber': false, 'allowHtml': true, 'pageSize': 10, 'page': 'enable', 'sortColumn': 0, 'sortAscending':false}
        var data = new google.visualization.DataTable();

data.addColumn('date', 'Date Done');
data.addColumn('number', 'Pounds');
data.addColumn('number', 'Kilos');
data.addColumn('number', 'Reps');
data.addColumn('string', 'Lifts');
data.addColumn('string', 'Comments');
data.addColumn('string', 'ranked');
data.addColumn('string', 'edit');

data.setCell(0,0,new Date(2008,5,2));
data.setCell(0,5,'<a class=\"fancybox fancybox.iframe\" href=\"fancybox/demo/iframe.html\">testing</a>');

var table = new 

The result? Check out:

This means you can open an editor form or info window from an HTML link that is embedded within a google datatable. Thanks to fancybox you can even refresh the parent (google datatable) from the close link within the modal...

Happy coding


Pick one - ski magazine 10 best mountains you've never skied

I've just finished reading november's issue of ski magazine that talks about 10 best mountains you've never skied.

As it happens I've skied most of them - here is what I'd tell fiends who were trying to decide which one to head to.

Grand targhee
This is one of my personal favorites - but then again I also like alta and mad river Glenn. This resort has a simplicity that is quickly vanishing. Don't look for million dollar water parks and costumed performers - just 1970 era condo lodging and really nice runs. I don't remember great vertical but rather hero run after hero run. If your kids like to ski bring them. If your spouse want to shop and spa - leave them behind.

Powder mountain
A don't miss destination. Hardest part is finding a place to stay nearby. I recommend staying in SLC proper at one of their cheap hotels - then using a rental car to get there.

A basin

Stevens pass

Mt rose
This was the first place I ever encountered true Sierra Cement. One of the deapest and most aweful ski experiences of my life. Cool vibe and some nic terrain, but as a destination I'd pick somewhere else unless I was already nearby.

Epic and great. One of the best places around the Tahoe area. If you like to ski and want to be near the Tahoe area, this is a don't miss.

Seriously? You've get all the drawbacks of Vermont ski areas plus the drive minus ameneties. If it is a powder day and you can arrange to stay for a while and you don't have a family, then go for it. The lack of crowds ensures you will have fresh pow all day long, but for my $$ I'd pick a less out of the way place. Or just fly to Utah.



A Vermont practical guide to Hurricane Sandy preparations

Most guides I've seen say the same things about Hurricane Sandy preparations: Water, batteries, medicines, etc.This is my checklist for getting ready for Sandy when she blows through Vermont.

1. Run the dishwasher. DUH. If we aren't going to have power for a while, run the dishwasher so you don't have a bunch of dirty dishes while we wait for power to come back. While you are at it - buy some paper plates. Easier to throw plates in the wood stove than wash them in cold water.

2. Tidy up the house. Hard to vacuum rugs and clean up with now power.

3. Forget medicine and water - buy BEER! In fact, buy some good scotch as well.Beer isn't as good luke warm, so if we really are without power for a while, a shot of good scotch while keeping warm by the wood stove doesn't sound too bad.

4. If you don't have a wood stove - make sure you know a neighbor who does. Then, when you go over to visit, see #3 above for a nice house warming gift...

5. Rent some DVD's for the kids. You probably already have a battery powered DVD player - rent some DVD's now so you have something to do while the TV is out.

6. Check on your elderly neighbors. If they are too old to run their own chainsaw - make sure they can get out of their driveways after the storm.

7. Re #6, make sure your own chainsaw starts and runs. Got chain oil? Mixed gas? There will probably be lots to clear soon.

8. Charge your cell phones. Even after the power fails, cell phones will probably work for a while. Nice to have a fully charged cell phone.

9. Reinforce your wood pile. Nothing worse than having to re-stack the darn thing. While you are at it - check to be sure you don't have any loose tarps around - these things blow away and are a pain to replace.

10. Make sure you have propane for your gas grill. It won't be too cold this week - so cooking out will be pretty easy if your grill has propane.

11. Make sure you have ice in the freezer. With ice and a cooler you can keep all sorts of food cool - including beer...

12. Buy a drill powered pump. These are a couple of bucks from any hardware store and can be powered with a cordless drill. You can use this to pump water out of your basement if the power is out for a while. Just be sure to charge your drill today!


Why are Romney and Obama tied- The Genetics of Politics


It was with great satisfaction that I read "The genetics of politics" for it has finally answered something that has been puzzling me since 2000 Bush-Gore election. For years my statistical mind has struggled to explain the tendency for American presidential campaigns to be decided on such small margins. My naive expectation has been that with such divisive and fundamental issues separating two candidates, one would naturally end up with a substantial lead over the other. My working theory had been that voters waited until they entered a polling booth and then flipped a coin to make their decision - candidates then being determined by the relative weight of George Washington's nose (on one side) vs. an eagles wing (on the other) on either side of a quarter. If we accept the possibility of genetics playing a role in party affiliation, my coin flip theory was wrong only by timing. The virtual "flip" that results in statistical dead heats actually takes place years earlier in utero and is indeed random. My faith in statistics has been restored.

Bill Patton

Original Economist Article: http://www.economist.com/node/21564191?frsc=dg%7Ca


St Pancras rail station and a clarinet adventure

Normally I travel with my climbing shoes - finding climbing gyms more interesting and friendly than 
a bar while traveling solo on business (I've never figured out bar culture - usually end up sitting around breathing someone else's cigarette smoke). This time I brought along a new travel companion - my clarinet. In spite of the added burden of carrying the darn thing around it proved an excellent addition - not only did I get to play some cello/clarinet duets with my cousin (whose Lonsdale road Victorian music room happens to reverberate at a perfect concert F) but I stepped briefly out of the role of 'traveler passing through' and into that of a traveler stepping in.

London station St. Pancras is one of my favorite rail stations in the world - not only is a relative rumored to be buried beneath one of the platforms, but the architecture is fantastic. It always feels like I've stepped into some old fashioned novel when I walk through the stone arches and across the worn platforms. High ceilings hang overhead and the echo of years of goodbye's and journey's begun hangs in the air with an almost palatable air. I can easily imagine my grandfather and great grandfather walking just ahead in a building like this - just before leaving London for the last time.

While standing in line to purchase my ticket to Nottingham my ear is caught by the echoing voices and live acoustics. When played by itself, a live room is the perfect space to play a clarinet. While dropping my luggage off to do some shoping I meet Hass behind the counter. When I ask about luggage insurance, not being used to leaving my buffet with a total stranger, Hass asks to see the instrument. Hass hasn't seen a clarinet before (he called it a trumpet) - I offer to play him a tune when I come back from shopping.

Later that afternoon I come back to St. Pancras and Hass and I begin to chat. He's worked for the railway for 17 years, 12 in the little left luggage room. He has a great oulook on life - amazing to find such optimism on the part of someone who works in a windowless room surrounded by other peoples luggage every day. Hass offers to trade me a cup of 'proper Indian tea' in return for a song. "for proper Indian tea i'd play three songs" I reply, and the deal is done. Hass brews me a lovely cup of tea (the secret he says is to boil the milk with the water for a moment - then take your tea with two sugars - a wonderful cup of tea). A proper cup of tea from a real mug, sitting momentarily sheltered from the mass of humanity that fills London ,chatting about life in Rhodesia with Hass - I've stumbled into one of those rare moments that makes the difference between floating through a foreign land, and actually visiting one.

The cup of tea ends, and I have 15 minutes to catch my train. I warm up the clarinet, and head out into the alcove. Only a few people are standing around now - muted voices bouncing around high overhead. I'll play three songs as promised for Hass. I always start Send in the Clowns low - I don't care much for the vocal version - but on the clarinet it usually works. The acoustics of St. Pancras are perfect - the low notes hang like heavy perfume in the air, while the upper register flits from floor to ceiling like hummingbirds. The clowns are followed by a bit of Mozart's clarinet concerto (third movement)- nice fast peppery notes punch through the echoes and join the birds. The last song is one of my favorites - perhaps because my classical teachers hated it so - I ease into benny's version of Moonglow and let the notes fly. Finally in honor of the train station, I play the intro to Rhapsody in Blue (which was inspired by a train ride - listen sometime for the rhythm of the train in the melody).

Hass and I shake hands, and part as friends. Next time I’ll play him some Brahms.


Build your own free iPad stylus

OK - not totally free - but pretty darn close.

Before buying a fancy stylus I wanted to try one out with my new iPad. A quick google search pointed me towards sponges (nearly any sponge will do as cellulose retains the moisture needed to be conductive) as the conductive material of choice - but i wanted to have a larger pen shaped stylus.

I ended up hijacking one of our sharpie markers with the retractable points and turning it into a pretty nice stylus by cutting a triangle shaped piece of sponge and stuffing it into the end - and trimming to shape.

After I had the point shaped to size I then took a paperclip - and bent the end so that I could hook it into the same space as the sponge. This is necessary to get an electrical contact going between my hand and the sponge stylus tip.

The result?

Tip of the stylus showing the sponge and tip of paperclip
The all important sponge - showing the corner I cut off to make the stylus tip
Stylus overview - showing the paper clip wrapped around the pen body and inserted into the sponge end


Getting started with Chrome Extensions

Creating a dynamic chrome extension

Upon hearing that iGoogle was going to be mothballed by the omnipotent google (What's happening to iGoogle) those of us who have come to rely on iGoogle to support a variety of widgets and gadgets were left scratching our heads. One of the recommendations from google was to create a chrome extension as a replacement for gadgets.

The obvious drawback to this solution is that it is exclusively a chrome browser solution - the other problem was that I didn't know how to do it - nor what the options were.

A couple of hours of dev work and the result was a fully functional store available chrome extension.

How does the extension look in practice? The extension  - when added to the Chrome browser causes a small icon to appear next to the "favorite star" in the chrome browser. Clicking on this icon spawns a small pop up panel - which in turns loads logsitall content. There are two ways to setup the extension - one simply adds an icon the the favorites (extensions) that appear when a new empty tab is opened in chrome - the other adds the icon to the tool bar. I chose the tool bar option.

I was ahead of the curve a bit - since I had already created a mobile (small window) friendly version of logsitall - which turned out to be perfect to this application.

How to get started building a chrome extension that loads external content

1. First step is to visit the chrome developer site: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/developer/dashboard

This is where all the action happens - you upload your extension code (via a zipped folder) and then configure the listing options. In addition to name and keyword you can also attach a youTube video link to show the extension in action (highly recommended - use cam studio to create simple screencast files and then upload them to youTube).

2. Then you are ready to create the basic elements of the extension folder: manifest, icons and popup.


  "name": "LogsItAll.com",
  "version": "1.1",
  "manifest_version": 2,
  "description": "LogsItAll.com",
  "browser_action": {
    "default_icon": "L-icon.png",
    "default_popup": "popup.html"


For the pop i cheated - instead of trying to call remote content using js - i just used a simple iframe:

iframe width=375 height=590 src="http://www.logsitall.com/m"

(poor man's js/ajax...)

After that you just have to create the icons that your extension will call and add them to the folder on your computer that contains the various files. Zip them and then upload the finished zip folder using the developer site.

The only other important point is that there is a $5 fee to become a "google extension developer" and gain access to the store. Compared to apple dev fee this is a bargain.

The result? Too soon to tell - I think it is unlikely that hordes will find and use this extension - however it will be a nice service for a few hard core logsitall users.

Reference links:
1. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/developer/dashboard
2. http://code.google.com/chrome/extensions/getstarted.html
3. http://snippetspace.com/portfolio/iwebkit/ (create mobile web apps)

Good luck and happy coding.


Esurance Review and Report

Esurance.com esurance

This is a review and user experience (mine) after switching from Geico to Esurance (a Safeco company). After being with Geico/Travelers for several years I made my first claim - my front deck collapsed after snowfall from my roof this past winter. Gieco paid quickly and in full - all good.

Sadly - this resulted in a substantial jump in my insurance premium so I began searching for alternatives. The Esurance website was easy to find and easy to use - and after soliciting quotes from several other companies - ended up selecting Esurance because they were the cheapest home owners insurance I could find.

The problem started after Esurance "placed" my policy with an underwriter. The underwriting company was based in California (I'm in Vermont) - so they sent out an inspector to check out my house. The inspector arrived on a day when i wasn't there - and did not contact me before or after the inspection.

A few weeks later I received a notice of cancellation. After two months!

The reasons given? 

*Peeling paint on my garage.
*No railing around my tree house (under construction - no access).
*no fire hydrant.

We live in Vermont and no one in our neighborhood has a fire hydrant. The tree house has no access - no stairs or ladder. The peeling paint was on our garage only.

After calling to complain I was told that the decision was final and made on the part of the "underwriter" who I was never allowed to talk to them. After getting stuck on hold multiple times I was finally told that "that was all there was" and told to go away. End of story.

My take away on all this? Stay away from Esurance. Stick with a known brand or better yet a local agent.

Esurance Review: One star

Xcel Infinity wetsuit review

Xcel Infinity Wetsuit
The Xcel infinity wetsuit promises "less seam and more stretch" - in my case I was looking for a comfortable suit that would work for August surfing along Cape Cod - hopefully without getting chomped by a shark (several sightings this summer) or hammered too hard by choppy surf.

First impression  - this is a very stretchy comfortable suit. The inner lining has an almost fleece like feel - two different thicknesses and colors along top and bottom halves.

Infinity - arm seam and wrist gasket
 I have fairly small wrists and the wrist closure fit very snug - good for keeping water out - but hard to get on.

Xcel infinity ankle gasket
 The ankle gasket was this bit of zig zag rubber - was pretty easy to get on and off.
excel infinity neck opening

Hard to tell from this photo but the zipper doesn't go down as far as many other suits - and there is a flap that stretches from one side to the other. This is intended to catch water coming in through the zipper - but it makes the suit a bit hard to get on.

Overall - the suit is well constructed and very comfortable to wear. On the down side - the short zipper combined with very tight wrists and forearms makes this a tough suit to get off.

Use test coming after my August trip to the Cape...


Creating mobile websites quick, cheap and easy with Go|Mo

By now pretty much everyone has acknowledged the importance of delivering web content in a mobile friendly way. Typically this is done through one of 4 strategies.
1. Create a stand alone mobile website
2. Use "responsive" design to ensure that your website renders well on small screen devices.
3. Create an iPhone/Droid app
4. Do nothing and hope mobile browsing was only a fad.

The best strategy for your particular situation depends a variety of variables including:
1. Site complexity. More complex sites are harder to move toward responsive design.
2. Budget
3. Mobile traffic
4. Audience
5. "Must have" features

While responsive design is the current hot topic in web dev I've found that for clients with highly complex "must have's" (and large enough budgets) native phone apps and stand alone mobile sites are still the way to go.

As you are trying to decide on a strategy take a quick read of Google's recent post (http://analytics.blogspot.com/2012/07/mobile-websites-vs-responsive-design.html) on this subject. They seem to come out in favor of responsive design - but in the end I think taking a case by case approach is the best bet.

One interesting approach is to create a test version of your site using Google's free tool for creating mobile friendly sites - http://www.howtogomo.com/en/d/ - and then using this as a test case for your mobile efforts.

Go|Mo allows you to quickly create a mobile friendly version of your site (or any site!)  - interact with it - share with friends and customers  - and really get a sense of how your existing content could be formatted for mobile. The mobile version of your site won't be as professional and well crafted as it would be starting from scratch with a good developer - but in a matter of minutes you'll get a sense of how your optimized site could look.

As a test case I decided to create a mobile optimized version of noaa.gov (my favorite weather site). Their website is complex and poorly designed (for both traditional and mobile visitors) - and gets even worse when viewed from an iPhone. In spite of the poor design I still favor this site because of the lack of ads and the quality of data. The solution? Use GoMo and create an awesome mobile friendly version of my favorite site.

Getting started required simply copying the URL of my forecast page:
http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?zoneid=VTZ017 and then entering this into the GoMo home page.

The GoMo tool allows you to choose from a variety of "skins" and also allows you to modify the layout (and even included content) by adding or removing blocks of content from the mobile version of your site. The actual "mobile friendly" version ends up hosted on duda mobile - this is the URL for my GoMo forecast site (Chittenden Vermont only):


While I'm not recommending that anyone use GoMo to create the final mobile friendly version of their site - it is a good way to see the possibilities -and also garner feedback from friends and customers. It also allowed me to create a mobile friendly version of one of my favorite sites with very little effort.

Happy coding!


Best free online food journals

Recent news has highlighted the importance of keeping a simple food journal in an effort to lose weight. The interesting part of this study is that no fancy features were rquired - in one report:
The best food journal is the one you'll use

So - what should you look for in a food journal?

1. fast and easy
2. customizable
3. free (of course)
4. mobile friendly
5. flexible

If the journal isn't easy to use - you won't use it.

If you are like me - you don't want to have one journal for food, another for fitness, another for habit tracking or sleep patterns, etc. Look for a comprehensive journal that lets you record a wide variety of activities.

As for mobile - this is obvious. I'm not a fan of 'apps' - simply because they have to be installed and updated. Instead I look for 'web apps' - basically mobile optimized websites that make it very easy to use from any mobile phone (android, iPhone, etc.)

Flexible just means that you can record a wide variety of types of information in the same system. The more flexible and more likely you are to use it.

My favorite free online food journal is LogsItAll.com - this site is free and, although targeted to athletes, is flexible enough to support a wide variety of activity recording (including food journaling). The calendar view makes it easy to see what you have been recording and the mobile site is fast and easy to use.

There is even a chrome extension that lets you quickly record details from within your chrome browser without even having to start a new tab.

Give it a try and let me know how you make out!


Best rock climbs by grade

I was asked yesterday what my favorite climbs were by grade - and it brought back memories of road trips - from vw camper van 9 month dirt bag trips to quick weekend drives to the gunks. I thought I'd start compiling the list - more than a few awesome road trips are required to tick these all off!

Best all time 5.9 would have to be Birdland at the Gunks.
This is an uber classic - most readers who are climbers have probably already ticked this one. I think it is now listed as 5.8+ but the first time I led it, I figured it was pretty close to 5.9

Curry's Diagonal, Veadauvoo, Laramie WY
vedauwoo, Laramie Wyoming
Haven't been to vedauwoo just outside Laramie, Wyoming? What are you waiting for? This place is beyond description- crazy wind sculpted blocks jutting up from the scrub pines set among a huge park (with National Forest 'free' camping just beyond the park. I've spent many a night camping there at night, climbing during the day and wandering around downtown Laramie in the evening.

The stone is incredibly tough on the fingers - one climb is called "Sex never did this to my hands" which sort of sums it all up. Although famous for off-width hell, Vedauwoo also has elegant face climbs, some classic hand and finger cracks and some interesting boulder problems - all set within a magical place.

Curry's Diagonal is one of the most prominent lines just off the main parking area - a proud crack with a "thank god" tree set in the middle of the line for bomber protection for the final run to the top.

Foops! Tragic that this is now closed (except for the most creative and persistent)
This is one of the original test pieces at the gunks - first done by Henry Barber. I wasn't sure what to expect when I first led it - so had been training hard on boulder problems in Rhode Island and the gunks. I'd heard stories of Barber training by pulling up on Popsicle sticks glues to a beam in his basement and the crack looks incredibly intimidating from the ground. We were climbing on doubles back in the day - and on my first try I got to the lip completely wound up in rope - desperately looking for a heel hook to help turn the corner.  This was based on the great photo of Kevin Bein (long since passed on a tragic honeymoon trip to Europe...) using a heel hook. Turns out there was never any heel hook - this was a classic sand bag by one of the great gunks legends. Next try I just campused from the jug at the lip to the solid horizontal holds just above the jug and stood up. The harder part was getting off - since there was only one piece of old tat hanging out on the ledge - and there was too much rope drag my my crappy lead on double to get to the top...

Tie: Sultans of Swing, New River Gorge
My small contribution to hard trad pieces in the New. We rated it 12b(r) but after returning there 15 years after my first ascent I got shut down on the first crux sequence. This was after flashing some other 12a/b at the new. I think our grade might have been a bit soft. I'd love to hear from anyone who has repeated this thing...

Guillotine , American Fork
AF is a crazy climbing spot outside Salt Lake City. All limestone, all polished and hard. First trip there after starting work at Black Diamond and the posse I was with started warming up on 12b - I realized I wasn't in New Hampshire anymore... Guillotine lies just beyond the cave shown in this photo and pulls up and over a steep roof with a mandatory throw to a small hold. After that there is a balancy move above the last good bolt to the final stance. I worked on this after watching Jason Cambell nearly flash the thing - only to fall and end up 4' above my head as I belayed him.

Middle Cathedral, Little Cottonwood


I don't fear spiders, I don't fear snakes but...


In case you missed it - there was an epic fail last week when Microsoft unveiled their new tablet.

When the poor (or actually very rich) Microsoft chief executive Steve Sinofsky went to demo the new tablet - it promptly failed as he tried to demonstrate it's rich media abilities. Watching Steve continue to deliver his carefully scripted and professionally coached patter while desperately trying to restart the now bricked tablet was hysterical...until I started remembering all the times it has happened to me.

My first epic fail happened years ago while hosting a sales event at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun.

I don't really expect much sympathy from my readers - because I was after all staying at the Ritz on a company dime... but there are probably few harder places in the wold to run a business meeting from. I had spent months putting together the event - attracting buyers from Staples, CompUSA (remember them?), Costco and others. Fresh out of grad school and in front of not only these hard boiled buyers but also senior management from the parent company I was anxious and eager to put in a great show. Two slides in and the bulb blew on the projector. Luckily for me - the projector had a spare bulb stored within the case. Sweat was already starting to trickle down my nice Armani suit as I struggled to replace the bulb. One slide past and the spare bulb blew. It didn't take long for the buyers to smell blood in the water and suddenly I was being heckled (loudly) by the buyers - who now viewed me as the speed bump on their way to the beach and cold beer. Trying to do a song and dance (mime skills) just made things go bad to worse and the last thing I remember is seeing a mass exodus as the buyers vanished en mass.

It was for the same company a few month later that things went from bad to worse. We were attending CES (http://www.cesweb.org/) to introduce a new product - this time a cord management system.

The holy grail for any manufacturer is the Walmart buyer. With the power of gods, these buyers can literally make or break a company or product line. Buyers in these positions typically turn their badges around so that you can't read their name, position or company and try to remain below the radar. We happened to know what he looked like - so as he approached our booth we went into high gear. I proudly brought out the latest sample and prepared to show how easily it could be opened. Couldn't be done. I could not get the top off of the 'easily opens cord manager' and the buyer was getting closer. Our VP of sales saw me struggle and quickly snatched the product out of my hands and went at it. Digging his finger nails under the lid he brought all the might of his Cornell wrestling skills to bear on the small plastic box. Unfortunately for him, the plastic lid was stronger than his nails and as he pulled harder, his nails gave way - and he ended up bending each nail backwards at once. The last thing I remember was him turning tail and running away from the Walmart buyer - silently howling in a mixture of pain and frustration. Walmart never did end up stocking the product...

The last fail happened in Rimini Italy at a global sales meeting.

With sales directors from all around the world we had carefully prepared powerpoint presentations ready to go for each day. In addition - each sales director in turn had a carefully prepared presentation showing how amazing they were at managing their territory. As expected the first morning kicked off with a few hours of preamble and then the first of what promised to be many incredibly boring presentations.

As we broke for a traditional long Italian lunch  - none of us were looking forward to returning. A few hours and several glasses of wine later we returned to the hotel's conference room -and discovered that each laptop in the entire room had been stolen while we were gone. My two memories are the hotel manager arguing that it was simply impossible that the laptops had been stolen - we must have misplaced them (and he continued to argue this point for nearly an hour - insisting that we each search our own room to be sure we hadn't left them there by mistake) and more importantly - how well everything went after that. Forcing us all to use a white board and engage with the audience - instead of simply reading off a powerpoint presentation resulted in one of the best sales meetings I've been to.

Since that time I've learned to never rely on anything working live. Showing a new product? Have a picture at the ready. Showing a new website? Have screen grabs ready to show when the site goes down. Using a projector? Bring printouts and a white board marker. Be prepared and have a good restaurant with a great bar picked out in advance for the aftermath.


Cog in the wheel - when your routine doctor visit isn't.

What happens when your routine doctor visit turns into something "interesting and urgent"?

Three weeks ago today I went to my regularly scheduled annual skin check up. With a history of melanoma in my family and a squamous cell carcinoma removal from my left temple (via MOHS procedure) four years ago, my annual skin check up has become part of my regular routine. Each time it has gone pretty much the same way - quick check in and then I stand and lie while the PA goes over my skin inch by inch. I feel sort of like a horse on an auction block with potential bidders giving me the careful once over.

This visit was no different until the very end. I happened to mention that I noticed a small bump in my left axilla which I had first seen two weeks prior to my skin check up. The PA's ears perked up and she carefully palpated my armpit (which was soon to see more attention and action that it has in years...)

This was followed by a "hmmm" and "Let me see if I can get the MD on duty to give me a consult". The MD (who I had never met prior to this visit) then came in and thoroughly palpated my armpit again. My routine visit was about to get both interesting and urgent.

It turns out that when skin cancer metastasizeit frequently follows the lymph system and causes tumors to appear along the lymph draining system nearest to the original site. In my case it made the appearance of an unknown lump on the same side of my body as the original cancer a cause for concern. This quickly led to "do you have a primary care physician that you can get in to see tomorrow?" and "we'll go ahead and schedule an ultrasound for Friday" and "you'll probably go in for surgery next week".

What I was to quickly learn was that as soon as something with potential serious consequences is observed you lose control over your schedule. The next three weeks would be filled with ultrasounds, scheduled (and cancelled) surgery appointments and finally the successful removal of the lump. For me it was the loss of control (as well as the uncertainly of it all) that was hardest to deal with.

In my case the surgery was over quickly and the surgeon was encouraged by the appearance, location and make up of the lump. It it most likely completely benign (it turned out to be a lypoma - harmless). I can only imagine the schedule and total loss of control that happens when you test positive for cancer and the medical establishment takes over. I'm hoping to never find out first hand.

One of the challenges associated with all this was simply getting myself to and from the hospital. For patients actively undergoing treatment the simple act of driving is challenging. For that reason I would encourage Vermont readers to visit the volunteer driving opportunities organized by United Way. I'm putting this on my list of to do's when this is all behind me.


Triumph Stockton Jacket Review

 Review and use test - Triumph Stockton Leather Motorcycle Jacket

I've been looking for a good leather jacket to replace an old textile version for a while - came across this Stockton jacket at my local Triumph dealer and picked it up a couple of days ago.

First impressions:

Beautifully made, excellent craftsmanship. The leather is strong - but very flexible and easy to wear. Has a nice "mid weight" feel to it. I'm 5'10" 160pounds and the mens 42 fit perfectly. Sleeves exactly the right length and torso snug but not too tight. The forearms are snug but not too tight and the cuff zippers allow for easy on and off.

Riding report:

Very comfortable riding. The back has expandable panels around the shoulders which made reaching forward easy.

Triumph Stockton Jacket - front view

There are two zippers on the front - just below each shoulder. These allow air to vent in nicely. Zipper pulls are solid and well made. On the plus - great ventilation for a leather jacket. On the minus - the zipper is never airtight so in cold weather there is still a bit of a draft.

Triumph Stockton Jacket - rear view

The zipper across the back allow for air flow front to back - again - one of the best ventilated leather jackets I've seen.

Triumph Stockton Jacket - rear vent open

Yet another rear vent - this time vertically along the side.

Fall Update
It is Fall here in Vermont now  and the weather is getting cooler. I've had the jacket for several months and it has held up well - all zipper pulls still working and all seems look great. The problem lies with the bicep zipper - in cold weather the cold air just sort of streams in and is pretty cold again my bicep. The air travels up along the shoulder. I've had the bike and jacket out in 45 degree weather and while overall it is toasty with the liner zipped in place, I can tell already that the bicep zipper is going to be a problem when it gets really cold. Suggestions? Maybe black tape on the inside once it gets cold?


Bill Patton's Harvard Business Review Comments

  • Harvard Business Review

    HBR online pieces frequently have interesting comments and discussions at the end of the article. These are some of my contributions.

    Years ago i was given a simple piece of advice regarding culture that i've used to evaluate organizational cultures again and again - particularly with respect to potential mergers or strategic alliances. 
    "Look down". For some strange reason, shoes tell a lot. Are you wearing chuck t's while your interviewer is wearing manolo blahnik's? Are the senior managers for your acquisition prospect wearing flip flops while the parent company staff are all wearing florsheims? 
    In my case I learned long ago that I don't fit in corporate cultures that feature heels and fancy footwear. Give me sanuks and a good cup of coffee and i'm good to go...

  • Personally... I found this post terrifying. As the founder of a small .com startup I've built my entire business around the google concept of "launch early and iterate often" which strikes me as an executional version of the "MVP" concept. Here are (a few of the things) that keep me up at night while following this approach:
    1. If I launch an unprotected or unprotectable idea (IP protection) that is barely good enough then I've essentially given any competitor who is paying attention a blue print for what they need to do to beat me. At my own game. Without having to come up with the darn idea in the first place.
    2. If I launch a well intentioned but unstable or frustratingly slow product to market - my early adopters' user experience will be poor - which unfortunately becomes part of my brand's reputation. Even after I manage to improve my product, I'll have a hard time wooing customers back (witness my aversion to purchasing a hyundai car for instance...) - I've witnessed this first hand with logsitall.
    So while I agree with the concept in principle (and have been living it in effect) I'm still a bit envious of those folks who manage to come up with a buttoned up, patent protected, perfectly crafted, tested and marketing planned product before the world ever even hears of it.

  • "Its value stems from how business
    leaders, from senior executives to managers, use it to foster new collaborative
    behaviors that materially improve business performance."
    I would argue that real value stems
    from the value your customers/followers derive from the content, not
    from how leaders use it.  The best written (or more often ghost written)
    facebook post or tweet is of no value if no one reads it. To develop a social
    media strategy that delivers real value leaders must achieve the hardest part
    of the equation - listen (via social media) to what their followers are saying
    and build real conversations. 

  • In my world (.com and webdev) i'm asked often by people looking to change careers into this field what they should do with their resume. My response is simple - forget the resume and set out to accomplish something. Build a blog, deploy adsense advertising and learn how to monetize your own traffic. Build a custom twitter page, facebook page, iGoogle theme and then learn how they work together. If this sounds harder than adding a new verb to an existing resume - you're exactly right - and that is the point. Resumes are old school - today I want to see what you can and are accomplishing.

  • "Why You Still Haven't Gotten a Job" offers advice I used to give when I did job search workshops in the 1990s and it's advice that no longer applies. 
    I've been out of work for over 2 years. I not only send out reasonably targeted resumes, I won't send out a resume unless I meet at least 60% of the job requirements. I have never landed even a first interview.  Just to be on the safe side, I paid to have my resume professionally prepared and even that individual was referred to me by someone I trusted, not a name I found on a Google search. Before I okayed the final version of my resume I sent it to 2 friends and asked them a) did it represent me and b) were there any typos? 
    A resume is simply a tool to get you the interview, as others have noted, but in this economy, joblessness can be particularly tough for those in middle age, where I am. Lots of highly qualified people are on the market and
    aren't getting responses to their resumes or callbacks for
    interviews let alone job offers. If you don't get an initial response to the resume, that makes the rest of the advice in this column moot.

  • I love the concept of 'return on influence' - and I can easily see the application and calculation associated with its metric within a traditional CPG business. My challenge lies in measuring this value for non profits and public utilities - neither of which have measurable online related revenue. Most utilities are scored by their local authority on things like customer satisfaction and trust - however attaching a number to this (and attaching a direct association with socially generated traffic) is hard...

  • I spent years flying from bos to lhr and finally figured out the trick was to take the sunday morning flight - arrive lhr ~7pm local time. Hotel Hoppa shuttle to the sheraton - and then take in a quick swim in their indoor pool before walking around the corner to the (well away from the airport hubbub) local pub for a pint and quiet meal. For me the trade off between losing a day in transit vs. arriving at my monday meeting relaxed and refreshed was well worth it. It is easy to lose sight of the importance of rest and decompress time during biz travel. Thanks for the great reminder.

  • Excellent set of questions - now where is the follow up article with answers? I'm currently struggling with the issue of partners - and the fear of being subsumed by a larger organization. Part of what drove me to set out on my own and create LogsItAll was the desire to control my own destiny and create an environment where I could take risks, make decisions and develop strategies quickly and without the overhead that comes with a larger organization. As I contemplate a partnership offer currently on the table I find myself struggling with the emotional attachment to freedom as much as the details surrounding IP and dilution issues. I'd love to hear more on this issue - and how to analyze the relative strengths and weaknesses of an offer - devoid of almost "parental" attachment I have to my little creation...

  • Ah, if I only had a nickle for every time I read an article preaching the gospel of meaning over money I could afford to be a writer for a living. In my humble experience it is far easier to write from Mr. Taylor's point of view when you have had the opportunity for a superior education and are the beneficiary of that magic combination of luck+ability+timing. For the rest of us, life tends to be a  long hard uphill battle that requires considerable suffering. While I agree with the premise, I suspect that the majority of the world are left agog at the concept of having anything approaching a choice.

  •  on The Worrying Trap last year
    "Someone once said that there are no small worries for people with big
    ambition, since every obstacle on the road to goals looms large." resonates with me loud and clear. Every set back I encounter with my dreams of moving my little start up forward seems like the end of the road - until I manage to get past it. While I can certainly agree with the strategies listed above - internalizing them and actually changing my cognitive process will probably take more than a quick read of an online HBR article...

  • I have for some time been comparing the house price bubble with higher ed cost bubble. Both are driven by unrealistic expectations - on the part of the borrower and (in most cases) the lender. Both are fueled by easy access to credit. Both are unsustainable.
    I haven't seen anyone point to a specific event that precipitated the decline of the housing market - but in the case of the education cost bubble i believe articles like the recent huff post piece by John Hrabe (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... could well begin to substantially impact the willingness of both students and parents to pay exorbitant prices for a fancy school degree. What happens next will be anyone's guess.
    As for MBA programs specifically - the time I spent studying accounting, expert systems and endless case studies (contact lenses for chickens?) were interesting - but looking back some 15 years post graduation the two most valuable experience were my coop placement with Polaroid and a course simply titled "The CEO". Both allowed me to learn from the real world experiences of leaders in their fields. Both exposed me to professionals that represented who and what I wanted to become. The other course work could have just as easily been taken online.
    My advice to others? First and foremost - try to get someone else to pay for your MBA. If the cost isn't on you, then justifying the ROI becomes easier... Secondly - be sure there is a strong real world learning component - and be sure that you understand exactly how much you will end up owing and exactly what your salary increase will have to be to justify cover your increased overhead.
    ps. love the idea of free up front MBA programs with a salary rider (Niraj comment). Very clever. Probably not feasible but very clever.

  • Bill - 
    I really liked your statement, "every penny earned validates our business model" as well as your poetic flourish "fall by the wayside like the grasshopper in winter."

    Thank you for sharing your experience; much appreciated!

  • I am said "boot strap" entrepreneur - and i couldn't agree more about our concentration on profitability. From where I sit I'm flat out amazed at businesses like twitter - who's ceo once remarked critically on those who dared ask where their revenue was going to come from.
    For me - every penny earned validates our business model and allows me to take one more small step forward. Every new client I value as a cherished partner - and treat them with the care and respect that they deserve. I continue to believe that ultimately this will let my small idea flourish even as those who have the luxury to ignore "profit" fall by the wayside like the grasshopper in winter.

  • I've got a pretty simple answer to "Why do companies so often spend resources innovating against customer needs that are already well satisfied?" and it boils down to the reason I like working on pull ups (which I'm good at) and hate working on my bench press (which I stink at).
    The same skills and abilities that allowed me to become a good climber also allow me to do lots of pull ups. The skills and abilities that produced a company that brilliantly satisfied the need to rapidly query massive volumes of data are also those that support the creation of features like auto complete.
    The problem is... I would likely be an even better climber if I developed a more balanced (and far less simian) body. Google may well need to move beyond their comfort zone in order to continue their growth curve as well. Unlike me, Google has the means to hire new bodies to fill in the gaps. I'm stuck with the one I have.

  • I run a website based around the "freemium" model and pay very close attention to this subject. As a bit of background - in 2010 65% of US internet users indicate that they have paid for internet content. I have also read that roughly 5% of Pandora users "upgrade" their account to the paid premium model.
    In building my revenue model I had to factor in the need to build a large community of users (which is easiest to do with a zero cost to join) with my need to generate a profit. This led me to the concept of a "freemium" website where the majority of services are free to all users - with a subset of features available only for a fee. I chose to build the fee threshold based directly on the volume of transactions (for instance, you can log 14 workouts and never see an upgrade invite, however on the 15+ workout you are invited each time to upgrade). In addition, the features that are promoted were designed to appeal to higher volume users.
    By experimenting with the volume threshold and the type of upgrade feature set, I've been able to get to a 4% upgrade participation which has proven to support a modest (but scalable) profit.
    Lastly - I've found that "corporate" or professional level packages are the real source of revenue. Although the cost to close (and time to close) is much higher than the consumer level sale, a professional account that lets a small business owner tie their payment directly to the revenue that my service can bring them leads to a win win and has begun to generate substantial revenues.

  • i'm certainly hoping that the human performance data from thousands of users from around the world that i'm capturing with my .com can at some point be turned into gold... the challenge is finding the buyer AND respecting the rights of the original data owners at the same time. I've participated in a few university studies and have found the data sanitizing/anonymizing process to require an interesting balance between user protection and data valuation.
    One thing for sure - this article has added a big to do onto my list - write up the data structure/acquisition process just in case i get hit by a bus (or break more than my leg like last week at heavenly).

  • The question you post is an insightful one - but it begs the follow up - what is the distance between your customers' current state and that new "improved" state that you seek to move them towards. I would posit that this distance can be measured in dollars (cost to change a behavior), difficulty (physical or mental), physical distance and perhaps even more esoteric measures like psychic challenge. The reason for trying to quantify this relates back to classic marketing in that the greater the distance between now and future, the greater the perceived and actual benefit must be to move your audience.
    What kind of innovator...this post...? One who things about the behavior changes I'm asking my web users to become.
    What change am I asking my users to undertake? Quantify their lives to improve their performance.

    • catherine:
      the site allows for easy logging for any "human" activity - mostly workouts, but also sleep journal, alcohol consumption, anxiety attacks and many others. Each activity automatically generates progress reports and (for public ones) also creates a performance ranking (show me best 5k runs times for others of my age and gender...)
      So taken all together - "Optimize the Human Machine" we felt presented the site as pretty technical and broad.
      Thoughts/feedback would be welcome!

    • I run a website devoted to people who like to quantify their (human) performance and then use online tools to seek improvement. After struggling for a long time with mission statements - we came up with "Optimize the human machine".

      My problem lies in evaluating the quality of this (and other) short mission statements. Just being short and correctly spelled does not offer much clue as to value. How do you go about comparing various mission statements and choosing the correct one? How often (if ever) should they change? I'm a fan of the concept, but get lost in executional details...


    • Thanks to some awesome coding by scott i've (almost) got my status update script working... In my case I want my site users to be able to assign permission to my app to perform status updates on their behalf. To that end i've got a function based on /twitter/update_status.asp that should in theory request the saved "twitter_oauth_token" (which is user+application) specific - then pair this with the stored "consumer key" and "consumer secret" that are associated with my app.
      Sadly this doesn't work (yet) - as i think there is another session var that needs to be provided for the update to work? My question is - is there a persistent value I can enter for the Session("auth_token_secret") value in my user's profile so that they don't need to 'log into twitter' each time to use the status update?
      Currently storing:
      Application Consumer Key
      Application Consumer Secret
      Individual user's OAUTH_TOKEN

    • sorry for the multiple posts - however on the off chance that others have same issue - i ended up simply commenting out the if statement above in the base.js file - and now everything works...

    • once again - i'm going to chime in with everyone else - thank you for awesome work. I'm close, but no cigar yet. I have the code installed on my server and have updated the _config file and updated the base.js file per suggestions. I'm finding that the defaul.asp page loads over and over again - with the log into twitter button appearing and dissappearing. any suggestions on where to look? I saw one other post that made reference to this issue, but couldn't see the resolution...

    • Nice to see a piece that is targeted to those of us actually in the trenches. Strategy and philosophy pieces are nice to read - but advice like "Don't get the fancy gear unless you plan to equip your early colleagues similarly" is wonderfully refreshing!
      In my case, I'm a shoe string start up (no VC or angel money for me) so my practical tips are targeted to even smaller entrepreneurs.
      *Get an EIN (employee identification number) quick.
      *Don't forget to put the copyright tag at the foot of each of your web pages.
      *Freshbooks.com is the worlds best (and free at first) time and invoice tracker for start ups who bill for time and/or services.
      *Learn to use PayPal (Instant Payment Notification etc.) Yes, you pay to take payments, but having everything come into one account and get connected to one CC is a life saver.
      *Set goals and objectives for your self each quarter and year and then stick to them.
      *Make some of your goals monetary - some strategic.
      *Keep it simple and learn to do it yourself if at all possible.
      *Just like parenting, you will probably underestimate the work and suffering... at the same time you will also probably underestimate the joy of your first self earned $$.
      -bill patton

    • i'm a developer and .com founder and was an early tester of the wave platform. From my standpoint there was a distinct lack of two vital ingredients - critical mass and clear user benefits.
      In comparison I had the fb social plugins running on my site within a few hours of their public introduction. The fb plugins leveraged an existing critical mass and had a very clear set of site publisher benefits. The fact the deployment was ridiculously easy didn't hurt either...

    • Well said. I am in full agreement. For those who have real world skills, watching their portfolios for the "bubble-burst" of student debt and likely taxpayer bailout would be wise.
      On the whole, the overall topic is almost too enormous for blog discussions. There is real value to gaining the ability for critical thought and systems thinking. With a good curriculum, a student learns to generalize the skills they learn from writing to applied statistics. While I have profound doubts about our current global higher educational institutions, a good programme will elevate a student's skills and abilities. The ROI on this is now in doubt -- for good reasons stated above. This is unlikely to be fixed by a myopic view on higher ed. It starts long before university. 

    • Fantastic article. I have for some time been comparing the "higher education bubble" with the housing bubble. Both were fueled by similar expectations for continuous growth and aggressive lending policies. As going to college came to be viewed a an inalienable right, lenders (with governmental blessings) stepped in to offer loans to all, with no regards or consideration for the underlying value of the degree being sought. Increased demand combined with cheap money led to spiraling college costs.
      At some point, buying a $500,000 condo in California is as nonsensical as graduating $160,000 in debt for a liberal arts degree. In working with a few clients in the college lending space, I'm seeing a real backlash on the part of parents who no longer are willing (or even able) to underwrite $20,$30 or $40k/year tuition bills. Instead they are pushing quality community college classes for their children. I truly believe that many of our ivy crusted institutions are heading for a housing bubble type crash if they continue to decouple their tuition costs with the actual value of their degree.

      •  on Misfit Entrepreneurs 2 years ago
        love the analogy of performing musician. my entrepreneurial adventure feels a lot like standing on stage trying to play the mozart clarinet concerto - this sort of constant struggle between convincing yourself that you have what it takes vs. your inner fear of failure. You have to inure yourself against the certain slings and arrows and charge ahead with blind faith. For me, there is always a fine line between delusion and optimism. I'm still not sure where I fall on that spectrum.

      •  FineFellow on Misfit Entrepreneurs 2 years ago

        Behind every entrepreneur is someone rebelling in someway against the "establishment". They may be vulnerable in some sense (as they are risk-takers), but in a lot of ways they have very thick skins as well. An experienced entrepreneur understands that they re going to face a lot of resistance from a lot of audiences in their life (including personal), but they will also persist, because they believe in themselves or the idea. Winning over audiences becomes a learned skill if they are successful.

        It is a lot like being a performing musician. You put yourself out on display and show your musical slant, you may have a lot of anxiety and may face some boos - but if you believe in what you are doing you just brush it off and get on with it (or drug yourself into artificial confidence).

      • I thought about this over the weekend and realized that I had been in a similar situation in a completely different industry (racing oars for rowing). The decision to fire someone who acts as "heart and soul" can be painful - with the "business case" side arguing in favor of fact based termination, while portraying the side who wants to find an enduring role for the individual as "soft.
        The truth is that in an era when brands and businesses are bought and sold, built and marketed and finely crafted from bits, bytes and plastic about the only thing that can't be reproduced are these heart and soul individuals. I believe consumers are increasingly looking for the authenticity that your long time core employee can bring. Want to stave off the competitors in the wings? Find a way for your core employees to continue to add value to the system and to your brand.
        In the case of Bob, he is a 61 year old with little chance of finding another position within the industry. My guess is that he is working for love, a structured life schedule and health insurance. Give him an awesome titled "XXXX emeritus" along with a modest work schedule, reduced hours and pay. Put him on the road and use him as the anchor for future presentations and discussions. Losing someone like Bob just makes Powerful even less so.

      • The example I frequently give of "green hospitality" done right is thehttp://www.golden-arrow.com/ resort in lake placid. At every touchpoint they reinforce their commitment to the environment - from extensive roof top gardens (that capture rainwater and reduce cooling expense) to the flower seed embedded postcards to localvore on the menu each and every aspect consistently tries to err on the side of being good to the surrounding environment. Even though I am not as a rule very sensitive to the green nature of a hotel during my selection process, the Golden Arrow's commitment plus their amenities easily convinced me to choose them over the competition for future stays.

      • I do not think this could have been better said, every word resonated for me. Imagine the savings if every hotel switched to the master key devices, that alone would be huge. I travel less now but hotels were my home for a long time and I only encountered one authentic green hotel, the ALT in Montreal. They even had two different toilet flushes, the small flush and the big flush.

        Green aside, this is a powerful customer experience message. Thanks Andrew!

      •  on Advanced Entrepreneurship 2 years ago
        I've been working on my LogsItAll.com start up now for 4 years and have never once thought of myself as a CEO - rather an underpaid, overworked, frequently delusional web developer. For me the business model quest and resource allocation (my time) trumps all - i'm looking forward to some good advice in future articles- particularly with respect to the difference between optimism and delusion...

      • i'm a partner in an advertising agency and was recently sent a beautiful collection of prints by the founder of a competing agency as a gift after he learned of my recent marriage. I put a few of them up in my office and was soundly berated by fellow partners for displaying design work done by a competitor. It can be hard to look competition squarely in the eye no matter the industry.

      • remember playing with magnets as a child? The sudden surprise "snap" of two magnets joining together as opposed to the more expected force of a rubber band stretching highlights part of our fundamental inability to anticipate and process non-linear growth. it is the very nature of "bubbles" that disarm our sense of predictability.

      • Your description reminds me perfectly of my old neighborhood in east fishkill ny - and our various business / recreation ventures. Now when I visit, the lawns are perfect, but the streets are devoid of children. We live in rural vermont - where i think (to some extent) the culture of invention among children still exists - although I can't seem to make either of my daughters mow the lawn...

         Link to this: http://disqus.com/Bill_Patton for more